- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 14, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Legislation to move up the deadline for judges to rule on court challenges to ballot measures from six weeks to eight was signed into law by Democratic Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon on Tuesday, a move supporters say could prevent expensive reprinting of ballots close to an election.

The measure was one of a number the governor signed Tuesday, the deadline for him to take action on bills passed by lawmakers this year.

The ballot legislation was spurred by a late court-ordered change to an early voting measure last year that cost the state nearly $680,000 to reimburse counties for the costs of reprinting ballots.

Bill sponsor Republican Sen. Will Kraus of Lee’s Summit, who is running for secretary of state in 2016, said in a statement that the legislation is aimed at preventing similar expenses. Democratic opponents had criticized the measure, saying it could limit judicial review of potentially misleading ballot language because of the tighter deadline.

Here’s a look at some of the other measures Nixon signed or allowed to become law Tuesday. Most are set to take effect Aug. 28.



LICENSE FEE OFFICES

A new Missouri policy is aimed at stopping a Department of Revenue practice of awarding certain contracts partially based on how much money is promised to come back to the state, which was criticized by some lawmakers as disadvantaging nonprofits that return money to their communities.

Businesses and nonprofits run offices that issue vehicle and driver’s licenses and collect a fee for each transaction. The competitive bidding process for awarding contracts to run those offices was put in place in 2009 to eliminate political patronage.

Nixon said he will let the measure, which blocks the department from weighing how much an organization will give back to the state in the bidding process, take effect without his signature.

SEX EDUCATION

A bill signed by Nixon will require that sexual education classes in Missouri public and charter schools include information about the potential consequences of sexting and the dangers of sexual predators, including online predators. Missouri does not require schools to teach sex education, but schools that opt to teach those classes must provide medically and factually accurate information.

ALCOHOL AND TOBACCO

Nixon signed legislation to create a dedicated fund to help pay for state alcohol and tobacco enforcement. The measure calls for 70 percent of fees from alcohol and tobacco licenses and permits to go to a special state fund. That money then can be used for efforts such as enforcement of state laws banning the sale of those products to minors.

CAMPUS SPEECH

New state policy signed by Nixon designates outdoor space at public colleges and universities as public forums, a measure aimed at further protecting students’ ability to protest, gather or practice free speech there. The legislation also provides those who feel their rights have been violated with options to take their case to court.

FRACKING

Nixon signed legislation that will allow the state Oil and Gas Council to oversee any future oil fracking in the state.

COLLEGE SAVINGS

Taxpayers can contribute $25 or more of their income tax refund to a state-sponsored college savings plan account under another measure signed by Nixon.

HARRIS-STOWE STATE UNIVERSITY

Nixon signed legislation that will allow the university to offer graduate degrees.

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